Messiah in the Torah
By Neil Lash

The idea that the Messiah can be found in the first five books of the Holy Scriptures is outrageous to most Orthodox Jews. Nevertheless, He is there! Even believers in Yeshua (Jesus) sometimes have a hard time seeing Him in the Torah (the five books of Moses, or the Pentatuch), but once He is seen, He is understood in a deeper way.

The Torah leads us to Messiah with signs all along the way. In the Torah, He is a stranger veiled from us, yet He is there. We feel His presence and we yearn for Him. These veils of Messiah's appearing take many forms such as direct prophecy, symbols of things, symbols of events and actions, symbols of offices, types, implications, and others.

1. The Messiah in Beresheet (Genesis)

There are Messianic themes in the first book of the Torah that continue throughout the entire Bible. Some of these are:

  • Man has fallen, but salvation and blessings will come.
  • Salvation will come through sacrifice.
  • The sacrifice will be linked to a son.
  • The power of the serpent will be crushed.
  • Hope will come through the child of a woman.
  • Salvation will come through Abraham.
  • New life will come through death.

We can see Yeshua in Joseph, the beloved of his father, who suffered and was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery, but was later resurrected from this slavery and exalted to a place of great power and glory. We can see Yeshua in Joseph, when he takes a gentile bride and when he welcomes home the same brothers who rejected him. Since the link between Joseph and the Messiah is rabbinical as well as evangelical (the Jewish theory of two Messiahs, 'Messiah ben Yosef' and 'Messiah ben David' (that is, Messiah the son of Joseph and Messiah the son of David]), this particular shadow is one of the deepest and most beautiful shadows in the Torah.

Yeshua can also be seen in the account of Yaakov's (Jacob's) ladder in Beresheet 28. We read that a ladder comes down from Heaven, touches the earth, and angels move up and down on it. Consider when Yeshua said: Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man! John 1:51

Messiah is our ladder! He came from heaven to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. He is the One who brings Israel to God, and God to Israel. In Him we climb up the ladder!

The Akeedah (binding of Isaac) in Beresheet (Genesis) 22 is perhaps the clearest reference to the Messiah in this book. God asks Abraham to take his only son, whom he loves, and go to Mt. Moriah to offer him up as a sacrifice. This is the first time that the word 'love' appears in the Bible. We see Isaac, the son, bearing the sacrificial wood, and think of Yeshua, carrying a wooden cross, Abraham tells Isaac in verse 8 of chapter 22 that "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering," and indeed He did 2000 years later. God and Abraham were in covenant, and in a covenant whatever one does the other has to be willing to do. God did! He took His only son on a donkey into Jerusalem, up to the mount, and bound Him there. God spared Abraham's son, but He let His own Son suffer death, as the final atonement for our sin. *That* is *love*! (John 3:16)

2. The Messiah in Shemot (Exodus)

The most obvious appearance of the Messiah in Shemot is in the Passover where a people enslaved in a foreign land cry out and God sends a Redeemer to them. They are saved by applying the blood of a lamb on their doors, and they follow the Redeemer through the wilderness and into the promised land.

We who believe in Yeshua have been saved by the blood of God's Lamb. Picture the Jewish homes with the blood on the lintel and two side door posts, forming a triangle pointing to Heaven. Now picture another piece of wood with three more spots of blood, this time forming a triangle pointing to earth. Put them together and you have a star of David - the star of Messiah- who reaches down to men in the bondage of slavery to sin and says: "Follow me!"

The wilderness itself is a shadow of Messiah. It speaks of a people who are redeemed from a land of bondage but not yet in the Promised Land. Their Redeemer leads them through, His presence dwells with them. In the day, He is the Cloud that guides them. In the night, He is the pillar of Fire. He gives them a new food to eat - Manna - not from earth, but from heaven. This is to teach God's people that true life does not come from the wilderness but from heaven. Messiah said:

Yes indeed! I tell you, whoever trusts has eternal life. I am the bread which is life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert: they died. But the bread that comes down from heaven is such that a person may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven: if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. Furthermore, the bread that I will give is my own flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world. John 6:47-51

The tabernacle or tent of meeting ('Mishkan' in Hebrew) described in the book of Shemot is a beautiful portrayal of God meeting with man through the Messiah. The Mishkan, plain on the outside, but rich in treasure and meaning on the inside is like our Lord who "had no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2). On the inside of the Tabernacle there was bread that sustained life, wine that gave joy, light from a golden menorah, sweet smelling fragrance, the blending of heaven and earth's colors, and so much more! Truly, we see the One who John called THE WORD, who became flesh and tabernacled, or pitched his tent, among us!

3. The Messiah in VaYikra (Leviticus)

The message of the third book of the Torah is that salvation will come through sacrifice of a sinless life dying for a sinful one. The guilty one must identify with the one who is dying, and as they become one, there is salvation. One of the most powerful verses in the Torah appears in VaYikra:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. VaYikra 17:11

There's been no blood sacrifice in traditional Judaism since the Temple was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago, and yet, blood sacrifices are *central* to Biblical Judaism. Some of you may not know that in the collection of Jewish writings called the Talmud, there is a place (Yoma 39b) which explains about a scarlet thread in the Temple that would supernaturally turn white each year to show that God had accepted the Day of Atonement sacrifices. This stopped happening about 40 years before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE. (Just around the time of Yeshua's death.) Refer as well to Isaiah 53, which decodes the book of VaYikra (Leviticus). In this chapter we find the One who suffered outside the camp, who "sprinkles" many nations and whose "soul should become an 'Asham'(guilt offering)." (If you are led to study this, please share it with us. It would make a good article!)

4. The Messiah in BeMidbar (Numbers)

Yeshua is the Star (Zohar) that came forth out of Yaakov/Jacob (BeMidbar 24). One rabbinical writing ways the following: "In the week that Messiah will be born there will be a bright star - in the east - the 'Star of Messiah'." This did happen when Yeshua was born! And now *He* is the star that lights up our lives.

In BeMidbar 21, we see Messiah in the bronze serpent. The children of Israel had sinned, and God sent serpents among the people, and they bit them. Many of the people repented, and asked Moshe (Moses) to intercede for them. The Lord told Moshe to make a serpent of bronze (a symbol of judgment) and put it on a pole. When those who had been bitten looked upon the serpent (a symbol of sin/evil) they would live. Picture Yeshua - who became sin for us - and was lifted up on a cross. In beholding His suffering, there is healing for us. The New Covenant says it this way: "Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up: so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)

5. The Messiah in Devareem (Deuteronomy)

One last insight on the Messiah from the last book of the Torah. Most of you know that Moshe, the law giver, died at the edge of the Promised Land. He never made it in. The Law speaks to us of a Promised Land where God wants to bring us, but it can't enter in. You can't enter into Messiah by the Law. Moshe's successor, Yehoshua (Joshua, another type of Yeshua) took the people into the Promised Land. As the Torah ends, Yehoshua (full of the Holy Spirit) is ready to lead God's people onward to all He has for them.

Yeshua wants to take *you* into the Promised Land the same way!

All Old Covenant passages are from The Jerusalem Bible, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, Israel, 1983.

All New Covenant passages are from The Jewish New Testament, Jewish New Testament Publications, Jerusalem, Israel, 1989.

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